Using airbags to improve protection in a crash is nothing new. Alpinestars debuted the system in Moto GP in 2009, and Ducati made the technology available to road riders on their Multistrada D air with bespoke Dainese jackets.
Soon the technology is set to become much more widespread, with the 2015 launch of a new system from Alpinestars that fits compatible A-stars jackets. So, unlike the Ducati/Dainese effort, you can ride any bike and still use the airbag system.
The Tech-Air system uses a vest and back protector to house the deployment charges, sensors, control unit and protective airbags.
The sensors typically detect an accident within 30 to 60 milliseconds, fully inflating the jacket in just 25 milliseconds. A decade of R&D, including hundreds of thousands of kilometres of road testing, has gone into the systems development and Alpinestars says it deploys well ahead of any injury impact. Its also suitable for on- and off-road riding.
The launch announcement points to two jackets that are currently compatible with the system: the Valparaiso all-weather textile number and the more sporty/summery Viper. No doubt others will follow. Full details (including a film sequence that shows exactly how valuable this kind of protection can be) are here. Predicted pricing (in Europe) is a somewhat salty NZ$1,900.